Social media is everywhere. Look around and you’ll lose count of the people you see with their noses buried in phones while the world passes them by. If everyone is hooked on social media it must be a good thing, right? And if it’s a good thing generally, then it must be great for relationships?
Actually, there are many reasons why we should be far more wary of the increasing intrusion of social media into our lives. Especially where online dating is concerned. In fact, here are four key ways that social media is killing dating.
1. It takes the focus away from what actually matters
Dating can be a fragile process, especially in the early stages. As you build a relationship both parties will be giving the initial bonding a lot of commitment. The song lyric ‘I only have eyes for you’ would certainly apply to partners meeting in the days before there were distracting devices within easy reach. Restaurants would be full of partners gazing blissfully into one another’s eyes. Nowadays a high percentage of their attention span will revolve around that tiny flickering screen that gets parked just to the right of the cutlery.
The trouble with social media is that is never sleeps. It’s a constant 24/7 stream of information, requests, direct messages, group chats. Alerts will ping constantly, notifying that you have been tagged in a Facebook post and must acknowledge this flattery immediately.
2. It blurs the lines between the private world and the wider world
One drawback with social media is the way the simplest snippets of text can so quickly grow legs. Something considered private and restricted to a close circle can get blown out of all proportion. You need to be very careful about divulging details of your love life to friends, who have friends, who have friends who are close to your partner. Social media will transform Chinese whispers into potentially devastating posts that cannot be undone.
3. It makes us inquisitive about other relationships
This aspect taps into human nature. When just about everyone you know is using social media there is always a temptation to pop names into the search bar to do amateur detective work. Have you ever idly wondered what your first crush looks like these days? You can find out in under a minute. Not only can you find out what they look like after 10, 20, 30 years or whatever, but depending on the security settings on their Facebook page you can delve into photo libraries. Soon you can find yourself mesmerized by the fact that your onetime teenage fantasy has posted holiday photographs lounging by a swimming pool. Then you notice they still live in your home town, and that button that would allow you to direct message looms largely. Your other half doesn’t need to ever find out. Social media presents lines that can very easily be crossed.
4. Message distortion
Take Instagram. You notice the heart symbol that indicates someone has really liked your photo. With Facebook, a stranger likes a post. You check out who, discovering yourself instantly smitten. The problem is that the person at the other end will probably have liked as many different posts during this session at their device. But to you, the adoration is blown out of all proportion.
The key is knowing when to set that demanding virtual world to one side. Everything in moderation is a wonderful adage. If you really want to enjoy each other’s company a pragmatic suggestion would be to hide those phones!